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PCOS/Insulin Resistance Support Support for us with any of the following: Insulin Resistance, Syndrome X, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or other endocrine disorders.

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Old 01-03-2011, 10:38 PM   #1
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I just have this problem where I feel like I HAVE to do low carb to lose weight with PCOS now. I don't know where I got this notion, maybe because I lost the first 40 pounds that way? Now I'm finding its to restrictive to do it the rest of my life. I can't see me doing it forever, because I have been "off" the diet for months now, basically just maintaining.
Then I start to get confused and frustrated so I want to give up all together. I hate this...I really hate this.
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Old 01-03-2011, 11:08 PM   #2
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So experiment. Maybe you'll find that you DO have to follow low-carb to lose weight. Maybe you'll find that you don't.

Even if you find that you only lose, or lose best on low-carb, doesn't mean you will have to eat that way forever (and you certainly don't have to think about it every day or even follow it every day to succeed. A day off here and there can only ruin everything if you let it).

I have found that I do lose best on low-carb. And when I eat high-carb, I don't lose and I'm miserably hungry. I follow a low-carb exchange plan, but sometimes I don't follow my plan. Sometimes I decide to (and sometimes I unintentionally) eat off plan. And that's ok - but there are trade-offs to the days off. High-carb foods make me hungrier and put me at risk for weight gain, or at least no-loss.

Today was a perfect example. Hubby and I went out to eat at Olive Garden to spend a gift card we got for Christmas. I decided weight loss wasn't top priority today (but I didn't want to gain). So today, I traded weight loss for weight maintenance.

We ordered calamari and soup/salad/breadsticks. I didn't eat the breadsticks, or the croutons, but I did eat the potatoes in the soup. I only ate a few pieces of the calamari, because it was breaded.

I really wanted dessert too, but talked myself out of it (In the past I would have said "I blew it, I might as well have dessert too," but I don't think that way anymore -- well I give myself a stern talking to when I do, and generally talk myself out of acting on it).

You have to do what's best for you, but that doesn't mean you have to be "perfect" every second. You don't have to restrict yourself from foods completely or forever.

I have to be 90% on plan to lose weight. I could decide to be 10% off plan every day or I could decide to be 100% on plan 9 days out of 10....


And of course lots of other variations too. For me, low-carb works best. So I chose a low-carb exchange plan, but I have a high-carb back-up plan as well (it's why I love exchange plans so much).

I found a variety of carb-level exchange plans on hillbillyhousewife website, and tweaked a bit for my own needs, but essentially learned that I can eat 1800 calories or more on a low-carb plan to lose the same weight or more than on the 1200 - 1500 calories of higher-carb. And on the lower calorie/higher carb exchange plan I'm far, far, far more hungry than on the 1800 calories of high-carb. For that matter, I'm hungrier on 1800 calories of high-carb than on 1200 calories of low-carb.

Being able to eat more and be less hungry AND lose more weight makes low-carb eating a no-brainer. Except sometimes the trade-off is worth it. Having a nice meal at Olive Garden was worth one day of no-loss to me. Sometimes the trade-offs aren't worth it. Eating holiday treats at my parents home for Christmas, wasn't worth the trade offs. I made a mistake in overdoing the treats, but even six years into this, I make almost as many mistakes as I make good choices. That's ok, focusing on progress rather than perfection, I will eventually get to goal - at least I keep getting closer.

Don't turn this into an everything or nothing endeavor. If low-carb eating really is your best weight loss strategy, then do it - as often as you have to.

Experiment and realize that no experiment can make or break your success, because you can change your plan every day if you want to. Even if you discover that you only lose weight when you restrict carbs pretty drastically, it doesn't mean that you have to decide that you'll never ever have a piece of cake again, just because you lose best on low-carb. Maybe you will decide that cake just isn't worth the trouble it can cause, or maybe you'll decide to trade weight loss (for a day, not forever) for a few extra carbs.
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Old 01-03-2011, 11:24 PM   #3
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I just read your post slowly two times, trying to let is sink in. I too have found with high carbs/process carbs I am HUNGRY. Where as if I eat low carb it satisfies me.
You post makes a lot of sense to me. I will have to keep coming back and reading it...so hopefully one day it will sink in....
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Old 01-03-2011, 11:37 PM   #4
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I've been working at the low-carb thing for several years, and it's still sinking in slowly. It's taken me three years to get off the last 60 lbs, and six years to get off the full 88.

That's pretty slow weight loss. Some of it was because I didn't know that low-carb was my best method, and some of it because I didn't practice what I knew.

Just choosing not to give up, and not allowing myself to think "I blew it" really has made the biggest difference for me. It doesn't matter how slowly I lose it, I will eventually lose it all if I don't give up. Finding ways not to give up, is of course the biggest trick.

What bugs the heck out of me now (if I'm dumb enough to let me think about it), is that every diet I ever quit, I quit because I was losing so slow that I felt like I was failing. That's not what bugs me. What bugs me is that I'm now losing fifty times slower than my slowest previous failure. To use my old measure of failure, I'm failing worse than ever, but I've "failed off" 88 lbs.

If during any of those previous attempts, I had only seen those failures as the successes they really were, I would have lost all the weight I needed to. I could have saved myself at least a few decades of my 40 years of dieting (I began my first diet in kindergarten).

I really think it all boils down to refusing to allow yourself to see failure, when you really have unmet expectations. They're not the same thing. If you're not meeting expectations, you can choose to lower your expectations or increase your efforts, but giving up can't be an option, if you want to get where you're going (or at least closer to it). On days I feel I can't make it to my goal weight, I remind myself that I can at least get off one more pound (and on days when I think I can't lose one more pound, I remind myself that I can at least keep off what I have lost).

It's that whole "a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step" thing.
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:04 AM   #5
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I am so glad I posted this! I was really debating it. But what you are saying makes so much sense. Thank you...like I said I am going to have to keep coming back here and reading this.
I can't follow my own advice. I told DH that who cares if it took me another 2 years to lose the next 50 pounds? But in my brain it twists it to think, okay then that means we can go off plan! Wohooo! So what you are saying makes a lot of sense to me. Its not a race...
Thank you!
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:59 AM   #6
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Personally, I found low carbing to be unsustainable. Dont get me wrong, I do lose weight almost instantly when I go on a low carb diet, but gain everything back when I start eating normally. Maybe I am doing something wrong, but a low carb diet just doent work for me in the long run.
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:51 PM   #7
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:c arrot:

Kaplods, what you've written is brilliant!

PinkHoodie, to add my own thoughts to it, because I think I'm doing low carb myself.

I don't think low-carb restricts your choices in food as much as it may seem to you right now.

I think any diet plan* is really just a re-learning of how we should have been eating anyway.

So, I'm eating low carb, but if I think about it, my friends who aren't actively trying to lose weight eat in similar manner. They don't eat high carb items frequently -- they aren't eating white bread or a lot of pasta or tons of potatoes.


* any "normal" diet plan that doesn't require strange foods/rituals/drugs/and so on.
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Old 01-04-2011, 02:23 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by nina125 View Post
Personally, I found low carbing to be unsustainable. Dont get me wrong, I do lose weight almost instantly when I go on a low carb diet, but gain everything back when I start eating normally. Maybe I am doing something wrong, but a low carb diet just doent work for me in the long run.

I thought this too - for decades. I never gave low-carb a long term attempt, because of it. I never tried it for more than a month, and if I found any aspect of a low-carb plan unreasonable, instead of tweaking the plan I abandoned the concept entirely.

I was extremely skeptical when my doctor suggested that my insulin resistance probably would respond well to a low-carb diet. It took a second opinion from a doctor who'd lost nearly 100 lbs herself on a modified Atkins, for me to seriously consider low-carb.

I still see low-carb as difficult to sustain (not impossible, just very difficult), but I've also learned that there are trade-offs to every WOE and sustainability isn't always about finding a program you can stick with - it's learning to stick with the program that works for you (and if several work, which works best with the least trade-offs).

For me, that's low-carb. I don't follow it very well, which is why I'm losing so slowly, but I really only lose when I am significantly restricting carbs. I lose more on 1800 calories of low-carb than on 1200 to 1500 calories of high carb, and I'm far less hungry. Heck I'm less hungry on 1200 calories of low-carb as on 1800 calories of high carb.

For me low-carb should be a no-brainer. Getting to eat more and lose more and drastically reduce hunger and appetite so I'm no longer rabidly hungry 24/7... what should be so unsustainable about that?

For me I realized it boiled down to a whiny inner voice that said, "But I don't want to give up bread or pasta, or lots and lots of fruit."

Bread and pastas were my biggest obstacle, and then I discovered that I'm sensitive to wheat. It may not be an actual allergy or gluten sensitivity, but if I eat more than trace amounts of wheat, my autoimmune disease symptoms flare.

Non-wheat breads are expensive and not very tasty, so I learned to give up bread, but there are plenty of very yummy non-wheat pastas, and I love fruit so much I could (and have) stalled my weight loss eating more than 1000 calories just in fruit in a day.

Pasta and fruit are my kryptonite, and I do go off plan more than I should because of them, but low-carb still has to be my plan (even if I fall off a lot) for me to lose weight consistently. When I try cutting calories without restricting carbs, I become so rabidly hungry that I end up either eating more than I should or being miserable. I don't "do" misery very well, so I end up giving up.

I'm not saying my experience with low-carb is true for every dieter - far from it. But I've learned that it's true for many of us. I never realized just how many people shared my experience with high-carb eating until I really started researching low-carb and participating in the low-carb forums.

I don't have the option of seeing low-carb as unsustainable (well yes I do, but that option entails seeing weight loss as unsustainable), because it's the only plan that I've been able to not only lose, but keep weight off for more than a few months to a year. I've been on a downward trend (for both carbs and weight loss) for six years, and the fewer carbs I eat, the better I lose.

Who knows, to maintain my weight I may need to eat virtually no sugar and starch. Or maybe I will be able to eat more carbs as I lose weight and become more active. Either way, I have to make sustainability about results, not my own preferences. I may always prefer to eat bread, pasta, and tons of fruit, but that may never be an option, if I want to reach a healthy weight.
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Old 01-04-2011, 02:44 PM   #9
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I definently feel better doing low carb. Just overall generally speaking. I think you all are right. I just need to tweak it so it works for me. I know it has also helped with PCOS, I have seen improvement in my symptoms when I have been doing it for awhile.
Thanks for all the support and thoughts, they are really helping me!
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:05 PM   #10
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Kaplods, if I wanted to read more about your carb exchange plan, where would I do that? Thanks!
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Old 01-05-2011, 12:38 AM   #11
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Kaplods, if I wanted to read more about your carb exchange plan, where would I do that? Thanks!

The first low-carb exchange plan I used was the 1800 high-protein plan I found on this website page.

http://healthy.hillbillyhousewife.com/foodplans.htm


I wanted more flexibility, so instead I used the 1500 calorie level of the high-protein plan as my "minimum." And then added about 600 calories of optional exchanges.

4 more vegetable exchanges (that I could use or not)

and (also optional) up to 6 additional exchanges (that I could spend on starch, protein, fruit, or dairy exchanges).


Using my plan this way, every day isn't necessarily low-carb. If I would choose starch and fruit for all of my flexible exchanges (which I usually don't do, but I could), those days wouldn't be low-carb but the calories would still fall between 1500 to 2100 calories.

While I try to pick the lower carb exchanges (protein and low-fat dairy) for my optional exchanges, it's nice to have a "back-up plan" for occasions for which it would be difficult to follow low-carb (the trade-off though is usually extra hunger and a little bit of water retention. It can look like a gain, but after two days back on low-carb the weight is gone).
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Old 01-05-2011, 01:54 AM   #12
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I've run the spectrum from vegan to flexitarian (or veggie-friendly non vegetarian) for different reasons at different times. Like when I was pregnant, my focus was reducing hormone load and coping with gestational diabetes, so I was very close to vegan/vegetarian diabetic exchange oriented.

This last year I've been more in the flexitarian camp because my endoc told me I had wimpy red blood cells and needed more iron. I'm not experienced enough to manage this on a veg/vegan diet yet. I know it is possible, but maybe my cooking skills need tweaks or my body just processes different. Whatever.

I decided to move toward the flexible end of my range because that is easier all around with a mixed family needs right now and time issues. I'll still try to learn some more veg techniques as I go along.

I attend a veg potluck once a month and I have found that the food there leaves me carb crazy. Delicious, but too light. My own dish is fine and obviously it suits me, but what other people bring isn't always right for me blood sugar wise. I like the variety and learning things from other cooks so I still want to go. So I have to think about having something more protein before I go to offset the unknown though.

I've also been trying out a 40-30-30 split since that fits within the PCOS guidelines I posted about before. The book link also has exchange lists break outs for PCOS people.

It is is lower carb than my previous 50-25-25 split as a vegetarian/flexatarian, but not so much different that it's weird or hard. Just skipping the whole wheat bread/flour products or leaving them for weekends only seem to work out.

I seem to be better satisfied there as far as hunger too.

So I guess my question is... how low carb are you talking about?

And if this is what it takes for you to lose, and you seem to have figured out where you need to maintain... rejoice in the knowledge! Takes some of us a while to figure that out!

And why not take it in steps? Lose for a bit (say a month) and take a maintaining break (say a week) and then get back to another month of working to lose. Or whatever other pattern works for you. Lose on week days, maintain on weekends if your weekends are esp social.

Nobody said you had to lose it straight all the way across without breaks.

I don't know what other maintain breaks may come in my 2011 year due to illness of the unforseen, but I know I'm on maintain mode all thru December every year to accomodate all the Christmas social stuff.

HTH!
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Old 01-05-2011, 01:59 AM   #13
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I think when I counted a few days worth, I was getting between 70-90 Carbs a day. Mostly from veggies. I feel GOOD eating that way, but I feel I can't maintain it all the time, which leads to guilt, which leads to a binge, which leads to gaining until I can muster up the courage to do it again.
What you are saying makes sense though about it not being a race...I just have a hard time regulating eating out and having a good time, and not having that throw me off for a week or a month...
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Old 01-05-2011, 10:15 AM   #14
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I have cut out many high-carb items from my diet, sticking only to whole grains and almost entirely eliminating rices, potatoes, and refined breads from my diet.

I am surprised that so many people are advocating for Atkins; as PCOS women, we're more likely to suffer from high blood cholesterol, which is only exacerbated by a high-protein diet. Although my cholesterol and triglycerides went down when I lost some weight, the difference was not appreciable, and I attribute this to my increased reliance upon protein in the absence of many of my favorite refined carbs. As a result, I have chosen to go vegetarian to make sure my cholesterol is under control.

Point being ... don't trade one evil for another (too many carbs for too much inherently fatty animal protein). I would assume that it would be detrimental to focus on the weight loss, only to find that your blood panels are jacked up because of the high-protein strategy. Try to moderate your intake of both, and I think you'll find that your weight and your cholesterol start making a steady trek downward. Just my $0.02.
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Old 01-06-2011, 02:19 PM   #15
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I am surprised that so many people are advocating for Atkins; as PCOS women, we're more likely to suffer from high blood cholesterol, which is only exacerbated by a high-protein diet.
This isn't necessarly true. Low-carb, high-protein (even high animal protein) diets do not inevitably exacerbate high cholesterol. In fact, many research studies have found the opposite to be true. Looking at more of the research of low-carb diets, it looks like most people's cholesterol level actually drops. For some there is no change, and only a small minority experience an elevation cholesterol levels (my guess would be these might be the people who lost the least amount of weight, or who ate the most processed meats like bacon, ham, and luncheon meats - but this is only a guess).

For my husband and myself, my husband's cholesterol levels plummeted on Atkins. Mine dropped slightly.

Some people do experience elevated cholesterol, but unless you are not able to get regular cholesterol screenings, you can let your own experience dictate your methods.

If you get regular screenings, you can let your results be your guide. If Atkins elevates your cholesterol levels, then discuss with your doctor what to do about it (cholesterol lowering meds and/or discontinuing the diet).

If your levels drop, then keep doing what you're doing, whether it's Atkins or another plan.
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